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2019 Crowdfunded Pitch Night Finalists Announced!

Top ten contestants named, set to compete in eighth annual competition


Thursday, April 11 at 5:30PM Happy Hour | 6:30PM Pitches

The Jefferson Theater | Free Admission

For the eighth year running, ten local entrepreneurs will have three minutes each to share their pitch with a live audience at Crowdfunded Pitch Night. These local dreamers—recently named as finalists—will vie to inspire the crowd and ultimately seize the top prizes that will help launch their business or project. The crowd will continue to choose the winner by voting with their dollars for their favorite pitch. Additionally, another contestant will win a $2,000 prize, courtesy of the Community Investment Collaborative and i.Lab at UVA. Another finalist will be eligible to receive staffing support from HackCville.


Meet the Finalists

Kelly Bonilla, Slay

100 million Americans go to a salon at least once per month. For these millions, the average expenditure on manicures and pedicures alone is over $112 per month—regardless of socioeconomic status, geographic location, race, or age. Slay makes it seamless for users to discover a curated selection of nearby salons and book appointments through a monthly subscription, all while receiving guaranteed service discounts. Winnings would support Slay’s launch this April and May in Charlottesville.

Charity Dinko, Northshea

Over 150,000 tons of shea butter are exported from Africa to America and Europe every year, and 50,000 tons of that comes from Northern Ghana. Yet, almost 3 million women who make this shea butter live in extreme poverty. Northshea seeks to acknowledge their efforts by providing living wages that will yield to financial freedom through the management of a shea factory. Proceeds from the competition would assist Northsea in purchasing their first stainless steel grinder and deionizing water machine to produce a high-quality and premium natural product.

Lesly Gourdet, LG’s Elixir LLC

Gourdet’s pitch will primarily focus on the birth of the elixir, highlighting its all-natural ingredients and potential to positively impact people’s lifestyles. Proceeds would go toward setting up a 50% matching fund to make the elixir available to community members who may find it challenging and unaffordable to purchase regularly.

Katie Kishore, Kindness Cafe + Play

What happens when all gifts are valued? What happens when people interact and care for others who are different from themselves? Kishore is starting a local coffee shop that will employ people with cognitive disabilities. Kindness Cafe + Play will provide a supportive community and space where people with and without disabilities can interact as peers. The winnings would go toward hiring the cafe’s first two employees.

Darius Nabors, 59in59 (59 National Parks in 59 Weeks)

In 1908, President Teddy Roosevelt said that the Grand Canyon is “the one great sight which every American should see.” Unfortunately, this is not a reality for every American, due to the cost and time associated with visiting. 59in59 uses 360° photos and virtual reality viewers to bring places like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Shenandoah to schools, elderly homes, children’s hospitals, and those who have mobility issues. Proceeds would support the technology’s expansion into more spaces across Charlottesville.

Alexander Olesen, Babylon Micro-Farms

Babylon Micro-Farms is designing cutting-edge hydroponic systems allowing businesses and individuals to grow their own fresh produce. Their farms are affordable and simple to use, and the hydroponic technology lets anyone grow crops year round at twice the speed, using 90% less water than conventional agriculture without the use of harmful pesticides or chemicals. The winnings would go toward funding a community outreach program to help Cville community members get involved with urban farming.

Zakiah Pierre, MothaLuv’s Sweet Notes

MothaLuv is a brand invested in reimagining “the village” by increasing and improving supports for moms navigating motherhood. Their products aim to keep moms encouraged, informed, and empowered. Their inaugural product, Sweet Notes, is a set of post-pregnancy cards designed to help take the guesswork out of new motherhood. Winnings would support product, brand, and mobile app development for the business.

Evelyn Tickle, Grow Oyster Reefs

Grow Oyster Reefs’ mission is to increase the numbers of oysters and reefs worldwide starting with a series of locally-developed, patent-pending concrete prototypes. These 40 prototypes will be deployed in the Chesapeake Bay watershed—specifically, the Elizabeth River, the Lynnhaven River, the Rappahannock River, and the Bay itself—to prevent the devastating effects of flooding and tidal surge. Proceeds would enable the organization to expand concrete production, deploy more products, and advance research and development.

Hunter Wagenaar, Inclusive Developmental Education for Adolescents (IDEA)

Sexual education in the United States is broken—and LGBTQ+ youth often fall through the cracks. IDEA seeks to build an inclusive and interactive LGBTQ+ sexual education curriculum by students for students. The online curriculum allows for decreased variability, a wider availability for an annual approach, and the opportunity for content adjustment. IDEA would use the proceeds for web development and market outreach.

Destinee Wright, The Solidarity Cards Project

The Solidarity Cards Project began in 2016 after the election results rolled in. Wright travelled to various direct action events and gathered over 400 responses to current events, politics, and social justice causes. She hopes to continue this work and share these ideas, thoughts, and snapshots. Wright would use the competition winnings to fund art gallery applications, purchase supplies, and publish a book about the project.

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